Lifestyle & Human Interest

Cold Case Solved: 20 Years After Woman's Murder, Detectives Arrest Alleged Killer


After 20 years, investigators in King County, Washington, have arrested the man who they believe killed 28-year-old Nguyet ‘Anna’ Nguyen, thanks to a detective who recently reviewed decades-old video-surveillance footage.

In 1998, Anna Nguyen lived with her elderly mother and 11-year-old daughter in Burien, Washington. She was engaged to be married and planned to fly to Reno, Nevada, for the wedding ceremony.

On Nov. 9, 1998, Nguyen had dinner with her fiancé and her daughter, The Seattle Times reported. She dropped her fiancé off at his home in west Seattle before driving back to her home in Burien.

She was last seen around 9 p.m. on Nov. 9, with plans to drive back to her fiancé’s home, telling her mother she would be home later that night. But Nguyen never arrived at her fiancé’s home and she never had a chance to say her wedding vows the following day.

Only her vehicle, a 1994 white Acura sedan, was found abandoned at a local casino two days after her disappearance. To date, Nguyen’s body has not been found.

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According to The Seattle Times, the lead suspect from the very beginning was Nguyen’s ex-boyfriend, Phan Kim Seng, who charging documents say was “clearly obsessed with the victim and unwilling to accept the end of their relationship.”

He was allegedly violently jealous of Nguyen’s new relationship and even had a domestic charge against him for trying to strangle Nguyen during an argument at her house.

Seng had changing alibi’s when King County Sheriff’s detectives questioned him on his whereabouts on the night Nguyen disappeared.

Despite their suspicions, King County Sheriff’s detectives did not have enough evidence to formally arrest and charge Seng with Nguyen’s murder.

But 20 years later, Seng, now 62 and a retired car salesman, was arrested at his Kent home on Oct. 25, and charged with second-degree murder. He is being held in the King County Jail, The Seattle Times reported.

The cold case was solved thanks to video surveillance footage which places Seng at the Riverside Casino in Tukwila where Nguyen’s vehicle was found, despite his statement that he was not near the casino during the time of his ex-girlfriend’s disappearance.

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A detective assigned to the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit, which reopened the cold-case investigation this year, viewed nearly 300 hours of video footage and discovered Seng at the casino, wearing a unique jacket.

Seng was photographed wearing the same jacket at various ATM’s where he used Nguyen’s debit cards in the days following her disappearance.

Detectives had previously viewed some of the video footage, but“there was no known comprehensive record to reflect what had been viewed and analyzed,” charging papers read, according to The Times.

Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht praised the Major Crimes detectives for solving their fourth cold case this year.

“My Major Crimes detectives do outstanding work with limited staffing, and still no funding for a dedicated Cold Case Unit,” Johanknecht told KCPQ. “Instead, they work these unsolved murders in addition to their heavy caseloads in the pursuit of justice and closure for the families who have lost their loved ones.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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